You can’t be all things to all people. This is a truth we all know, but one we occasionally wrestle with.
“Shun the non-believers” is possibly the advice I most frequently offer. When someone tells me about an idea that they just can’t get other people to buy into, I reply with, “Shun the non-believers.” When someone tells me they can’t organize their team around a worthwhile goal, well, it’s the same thing: “Shun the non-believers.” The non-believers are cancer in an otherwise healthy organism. You are better off working with people who are already convinced.
I remember I went to a job interview for a sales job that promised up to $500 a week working “student hours.” I arrived to a rented room on campus. There had to be about 60 people there looking for jobs, and the interviews were conducted in pairs. I went alone and was paired with a stranger.
“Dennis, do you think you could sell $300 worth of product a day?” I was asked.
“Depends what the product is,” I answered.
The fellow I was paired up with was smart enough to answer “yes” with no qualifiers.
The interviewer never asked me another question and never looked at me again. I was a non-believer, and he wisely cut his losses to invest his time in the other guy, a.k.a. the right guy.
Shun the non-believers.
Work with the people who are already convinced, and forget about trying to convince the rest of them. Your most likely ‘next client’ is an existing client, and your next most likely is someone your existing client knows.
And the most likely way your existing client’s friend is going to hear about you is if you stage an incredible experience, which we write about here all the time, so keep tuning in.
The reason we keep the non-believers around is because we have all kinds of different fears to negotiate. Beginning with the fear of being too exclusive, which is when you reserve your services for a certain kind of client, you immediately reject another kind of client. You tell yourself that when you turn someone away, you may never get asked again, or later you’ll regret it. Or you sell yourself on the idea that if you take this job, it will lead to a better job. Whatever it is, pushing away a non-believer is scary.
While there are all kinds of exceptions to prove the rules, we don’t live by exceptions. We live by the rules.
Trust me. Do your work for people who care about it. Don’t think about other people; think about your people and think about how you can make your work matter more for them. How can you do it better? What can you do that will bring a little more to the table? How can you make it more fun? More meaningful?
Shun the non-believers. The believers will bring all kinds of people to the next show. It takes a while to build a loyal audience.